Carl Broadbent puts out a lot of videos with good content for beginners. One of his latest videos is a checklist of things to do after purchasing a new website.
I don't usually respond/review too much to other content that people put out, because these are all opinions on what works for that specific person.
This is one time I want to give my input because I feel some steps in the process are done out of order from my process, as well as missing some steps. There's still a good amount of crossover with what I do, but some notable differences.
My concern here is people are spending good money to purchase a website, but there are things in there that make me feel like the site owner could lose time and money. Even potentially hurting the site with the Google algorithm.
First a disclaimer, these are things I do and things that Carl does. Use them as examples of what you could do in creating your own process that works for you. Don't blindly follow any one person. It's important to get many different viewpoints and educate yourself to make the best decisions for your sites.
Step 1- Security is Priority
Swap out Analytics / Search Console - He says to start new GA/GSC accounts, because it's easier. It's not easier. The easiest is for the past owner to add you to the current GA/GSC accounts and you then delete the previous owner from the accounts. He's not bothered by the history, but the history is soooo useful.
The new owner purchased the site with the history being one of the biggest factors, if not the biggest. Why would you want to lose that?
A/B Testing - The A is the history. Don't lose that.
Step 2 - Plugins
Remove any unnecessary plugins - Yes, do that, but don't do it before you decide your WordPress theme. If I decide to use a different theme, which I usually do, I'll change themes and check each page before removing plugins. You don't know what pages are using what plugins. Many of the paid themes on marketplaces like Envato are targeted for Beginners, and they often have required plugins.
I don't bother wasting time removing/testing plugins until after I have a theme selected (which I do 99% of the time with GeneratePress).
Step 3 - Themes
I think Themes should be before Plugins. Think of it like this:
- WordPress is a bare cake with no icing, the site's foundation.
- The Theme is the icing, the next layer.
- Plugins are all the other things that you decorate the cake with.
You don't build a cake by writing Happy Birthday and then put the icing on top.
One thing I 100% agree with is his choice of theme. He uses GeneratePress, which is what I use too. Even if you're going to use GP, you should install and activate it before messing with plugins.
Step 4 - Technical SEO
Good list here, but his first task in Step 4 is a full scan of the site for technical issues with the site. It should be Step 0 while it's on the previous owner's server.
I would do a full scan before you touch the site and have the results handy as you do other change other things on the site. You should run another scan here in Step 4 as he said after you've changed the theme and plugins. A comparison will show you if the Theme and/or Plugins might've caused more issues. If there are any major ones (404s, shortcodes, etc.), you'll know you need to roll back to previous the Theme/Plugins and step through changes to see where things went wrong.
You're going to waste a lot of time if you run your first full site audit here and see major issues. You're not going to know if it was already an issue pre-purchase or if it was something you changed.
Step 5 - Pagespeed
Yes, I agree to definitely work on Pagespeed. But I have a different opinion on what step in the process to do this. Pagespeed optimizations should be after you've put up your content (his Step 6), unless this step is to just start testing things out. In that case, I would start testing right off the bat before making changes and do speed tests as you make changes to see effect.
I also like to turn off all caching and see what I can do to optimize speed without any plugin help, like image optimizations and plugin bloat. Doing that helps to ensure I'm not being lazy and thinking that some caching plugin will magically fix me uploading 1mb images and installing 50 plugins. Once I've done what I can pre-caching plugin, then I'll turn on caching and they'll magically be fast.
Step 6 - Content
I do things slightly different here too. I now usually watch the purchased sites for 1-2 weeks before making major changes to the content. There are already server, design, and navigation changes that Google will see. The first major change post-purchase is migration to my servers, so I still want to make sure that all is well with Google. It usually is, but you never know with Google.
I made mistakes in buying Site 1 and changing things around immediately. When rankings lowered soon after, I had no way of knowing what changes caused the lower rankings. I didn't know if it was the theme and navigation changes, or if it was the content changes, or if it was the interlinking additions. John Mueller has said in one of the recent Office Hours that major changes should be treated cautiously when it comes to Google looking at your site as the same site.
As another example, I just migrated a static site from all .html pages to WordPress. I put it on a stock GeneratePress theme and no major content changes. I did change the internal links because they were pointing to the old .html pages, but otherwise didn't touch the content. I'm letting it sit for a couple weeks to see what happens with Google and the rankings. Don't want to throw too many changes at Google at one time. Even though I really want to update the content, because it needs a lot of work - but that's what staging sites are for.
In Step 6 he also says to start a content audit, but how do you do that without the Google Analytics / Google Search Console history (Step 1)? Maybe he uses Ahrefs here, but I'd rather have the Actuals from GA and GSC.
He also says he wants a 70-30 split of Informational to Buyer Intent articles. I'd say that this depends on the site. That's a fine split, but if it was 100% buyer intent before, I wouldn't just flip it by adding all informational articles all of a sudden.
Google is used to seeing certain types of articles on your site. If you shock it one after another, they're going to treat your site as a brand new site, which could mean a period of time where Google reassesses your site. I'm more of a fan of making gradual changes to sites and seeing what happens (remember SEO Testing Best Practices from last issue?)
Just be ready if Google doesn't like those articles right away and it takes longer for your articles to rank. It's like you're expanding into new sub-niches and shoulder niches, they're going to take more time to rank, if they do at all.
Step 7 - Let it Sit (12 week review)
This is good with creating new content and letting it sit. If it's a 8-12+ month site already, you should be able to see results sooner if the topic relevancy is there for your new content. But also what I just said before, it might take more time.
Also, be sure that you have the history of the old content. Otherwise you won't know the impact of the updates you made.
Step 8 - 6 Month Review
His comment "Sometimes Google just does not like a site or domain" - I'd hope you would know this before you buy a site (unless it's a brand new site). If it's an aged site, you should've already checked to see how Google's liking the site with indexed pages, rankings, etc. before purchasing. Do your due diligence (which is what he says one of his next videos will be).
I completely agree with building backlinks, whether you buy or outreach yourself.
My Final Thoughts
Please don't buy a site, make a bunch of changes, write a bunch of content, and then wait 6-9 months to see if Google likes the site or not.
Know what Google liked about the site pre-purchase. What are the reasons you like the site? That's what I'm missing here in this checklist. It almost sounds as-if everything is starting a site fresh, because he throws away the history in Step 1. That's not the point of purchasing an old site. You want to take advantage of what was working before and build on it.
If Google liked the site when you purchased the site, and then it tanks after all your changes and new content, that's a different story. That's something you did that made Google not like it. That's why you need the history. You need the data that shows the positive and negative results of changes. Maybe one post takes off 20x in traffic, but the other 99 articles all dropped 50%. Were your changes and new content good?
When doing major changes to a site, it's best practice to do it on a staging site. I don't do it on a live, production site because if any major issues pop up, your site is down. That's lost money if the site has good traffic.